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Plato's Republic C Kirwan : Glaucon's Challenge Republic 358d : 'I want to hear it praised itself by itself'. Glaucon challenges Socrates to refute the Thrasymachean view of justice more effectively than he has done in Book I. Later Adeimantus says (367d) : 'Commend that feature of justice by which it benefits the man who has it itself on its own account, and injustice harms him; leave to others to commend reward and reputation'
- These two formulae have been held to conflict. Socrates might complain that he does not know whether he is to praise justice for itself or for its benefits.
- If the latter, then, it is argued, for its consequences - for the particular benefit which Adeimantus wants demonstrated is that justice makes a man happier, and happiness would be a consequence of justice.
- The reference is to 361d : When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice, the other of injustice, let us judge which of the two is the happier. Others have said that the conflict is not real, because nothing could count as praise of justice which was not praise of its consequences. But the reason given is false. In the first place a man could say 'Hurrah for Justice'. That would be praise, but not praise of the consequences as it mentions no consequences. Clearly, Socrates is not asked for this kind of praise, which could hardly be extended with profit over nine books.
- What is required of him are reasons for thinking that justice is a good / splendid thing. In the second place, these reasons need not mention consequences. One can give a man a reason for pursuing something by showing what character the thing has, or what it is. 'Why be just?' : 'Because justice is a virtue'. That particular response might be thought not very persuasive, but other similar possibilities remain. You might recommend it by comparing it with something admitted to be worthy of pursuit.
- Socrates recommends it at the end of Book IV, comparing it with a healthy soul - and then of course one will want to be such. It follows that praise, even reasoned praise, of justice need not praise its consequences, so that Glaucon and Adeimantus, if they sometimes insist on praise of its consequences, might still be taken to lapse from Glaucon's original request. Praise justice itself in terms of itself dose not have to mean praise it for its consequences. Although praise in terms of itself could be given a meaning which excludes praise it for its consequences, there remains the possibility that it could also be given a meaning compatible with this. But there is difficulty in saving the consistency of Glaucon's and Adeimantus' challenge by attributing this new meaning to the. There are at least some consequences of justice of which neither brother wants to mention - the rewards which men bestow on those who (rightly or not) earn the reputation of being just; these are to be left aside (358 / 361 / 366). Glaucon does at one point go further, and ask for praise of rewards and consequences (358b).
- If praising justice in terms of itself includes praising it for the consequence that it makes men happy, Glaucon and Adeimantus must imply a distinction between different kinds of consequences - some are to be excluded, others not. Foster found one such distinction - the consequences which Glaucon and Adeimantus want ignored have two characteristics : a) They are artificial - they do not follow the possession of justice without human intervention. They are awards in the sense in which a prize / bribe is a reward for work. Nature does not mean inevitable - relief of a headache is the natural consequence of taking aspirin. But the relief does not always come, and could easily be prevented.
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GLAUCON b) The consequences to be ignored follow from the appearance, even if it is a pretence, of justice rather than from it itself. Kirwan believes that these two distinctions seem to Plato to be coincident. What is the natural consequences of an action will never be the consequences of its counterfeit, and artificial consequences will always follow successful pretence.
- Foster's contention is that Glaucon and Adeimantus and after them Socrates operate with these distinctions. Foster believed that 'I want to hear it praised itself by itself' is intended to cover praise of natural but not artificial consequences - it covers happiness. The problem of interpretation seems solved. But it is not : For we have so far ignored a passage which is the main concern of Foster's article - which he rightly took to make a different distinction. The passage from the opening page of Book II :
- 'Tell me, would you agree that there is one kind of good which we are prepared to have not because we are after what comes out of it but because we welcome it for its own sake…' In this exchange, Glaucon purports to set the scene for his coming challenge to Socrates. Justice, he tells us, is placed by the many and by Thrasymachus in the third class - that of disagreeable things, but Socrates is to show that it belongs in fact to the second class. Glaucon, in asking for Socrates to show that a thing is good for its own sake will be the same as praising it itself in terms of itself - and this in turn we suppose Plato takes to be the same as praising it for its natural consequences. When Glaucon mentions consequences in his threefold classification he must mean artificial consequences. The language of Adeimantus - 'good for its own sake' must be replaced with 'good for its natural consequences', and 'good for what comes from it' must be supplied by 'good for its artificial consequences'.
- Kirwan argues that to do with is too far fetched to be attributed to Plaot - by its means we seem to have reconciled Glaucon's hoped for allocation of justice in the second class of good things. Kirwan tries to show that recourse to the former of these two conclusions is unnecessary - that the distinction between agreeable and disagreeable goods, which runs right through the brothers' statement of, and Socrates response to, their challenge, is not overload or damagingly confused with any other distinction - and that the interpretation of the challenge in terms of Foster's distinction between natural and artificial consequences is, after all, wrong. It will have to be admitted that the prominence given to, alike by Glaucon / Adeimantus / Socrates, obscures the importance of the agreeable / disagreeable distinction - it seems to imply that any praise of justice which leaves x out of account will satisfy the brothers' conditions; whereas in fact mention of it is only one of the pitfalls which Socrate must avoid.
- Kirwan argues that it is necessary to call an inconsistency at this point. Kirwan believes that nothing that Glaucon /
Adeimantus say later obliges them to retract the form of challenge implied by the threefold classification, namely : Justice is thought to be a disagreeable good ; show that it is agreeable. The obstacles in the way of this conclusion are :
1. According to Adeimantus (367d), justice is to be commended for its benefits. But a thing's being beneficial is compatible with its not being agreeable, and so with its being in the third division of goods. Glaucon actually characterises that division as comprising things beneficial but disagreeable (357e). Thus, it appears that Adeimantus' conditions at 367d are less stringent than Glaucon's at the beginning of the book.
2. Justice is shown to make men happy. But happiness would then be a consequence of justice, and having good consequences is compatible with being disagreeable, as again the threefold division makes clear. So this formation of the challenge seems to imply less stringent conditions than Glaucon originally laid down.
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GLAUCON O B S TAC LE O N E Cross & Woozley suggest that Adeimantus asks to know the beneficial results of justice, not its beneficial consequences. The result of an action, they hold, is a consequences which constitute the successful accomplishment though once they say puzzling that a result is something which a man does. This distinction between results &
consequences is often the key to understanding what is meant by doing / praising / wanting things for their own sakes : but not here. Glaucon's disagreeable things, the third class, include things praised for their good results. So praise of justice for its results, no less than for its other consequences, is compatible with placing it in the third class. But against the first objection it might be urged that Plato uses different words in the two material places where benefit is translated. Kirwan argues that there is a difference of meaning in the two passages, but the words used by Plato do not guarantee it and are not meant to mark it. DIFFERENCE OF MEANING The difference emerges if we consider Glaucon's first class of good things - enjoyment / harmless pleasures. This class is introduced for the sake of completeness, but plays no part in the argument. It does raise a difficulty - if it is characterised in tiers of the distinction between what is agreeable and what is beneficial. If the third class of goods are disagreeable but beneficial, and the second class both agreeable and beneficial, then the first class are just agreeable. But does the last distinction make sense - are not all agreeable things also beneficial?
All agreeable things are beneficial, because agreeableness is one way of being agreeable. But when being beneficial is contrasted with being agreeable, the word beneficial is used in a narrower sense than this concession allows ; to mean beneficial (in the wider sense) but not by being agreeable. The narrower sense is natural but if critics insist on the wider sense, Glaucon's three division can still be separated :
- His first comprises things beneficial in one way, his third things beneficial in the other way, and his second things beneficial in both ways. When Glaucon characterises surgery and the like as beneficial - he means beneficial in the narrower sense, not by being agreeable. He things these things are disagreeable. But when Adeimantus asks Socrates to show that feature of justice by which it benefits the man who has it, he allows agreeableness to count as a benefit - and doubtless the qualification 'itself on its own account' conveys only that kind of benefit is in question - it will not do to cite benefits which are compatible with justice's being in the third class. The O B S TAC LE TW O Even though the word benefits at 367d does not have to mean 'has good consequences', there is another reason for taking Gluon and Adeimantus as asking Socrates to show that justice has good consequences, namely that they ask him to show that it makes its owner happy. Wouldn't such a demonstration be still compatible with its being in Glaucon's third class? Everyone yet agrees that justice is as high as that class. If it is shown to be in the second class, isn't Plato wrong to undertake this by a proof that the just man is happy, and the unjust unhappy?
Mabbott denies that Plato uses the procedure which the objection attributes to him : Socrates' proof that the just man is happiest is not, according to Mabbott, part of his proof that justice is higher than the third class.
- In the passage at the end of Book IV, where Socrates recommends justice as the health of the soul, Mabbott contended that that constitutes the whole of Plato's proof that justice is good for its own sake. So the arguments of Book IX which are designed to show that the life of the just man is pleasantest and happiest are to be consigned to the other part of Socrates' task - the proof the justice is good for the sake of its consequences. There are two things to be said against this reading.
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1. It jars with the passage in Book X where Socrates asks to be released from the injunction against mentioning rewards. We have seen that these rewards are not the only features of justice which Socrates has to steer clear of if he is to meet the challenge - he has also to avoid relying on the sort of argument that Mabbott finds in Book IX that justice is prized for its natural consequences - that too is compatible with it being like medical treatment. If his proof that the just man's life is happiest already constitutes a breach of part of the brothers' injunction, as Mabbott thinks, it is hard to see why he should make such a fuss about asking to be released from the other part.
1. Kirwan thinks that Mabbott might answer to this objection that Socrates could be forgiven for regarding Book IX as a less serious breach, in view of the emphasis on reward in the brothers' original warnings.
2. It is easier to take Book IX as falling within the terms that had been laid down in Book II - and thus as part of the proof that justice is not tedious.
2. The second thing to be said against Mabbott's reading is that it attributes to Plato a quite unlikely doctrine. It requires him to hold that if you have shown that justice is agreeable (good for its own sake) its remains to be shown that it makes men happy. The Republic reject this view of eudaemonia. Not only do Glaucon and Adeimantus ask Socrates to refute the common view that justice is compatible with unhappiness but in requiring him to prove that justice actually makes men happier they strongly imply that nothing less would take away that imputation that it is painstaking. The impression is strengthened by the equation of happiness and pleasure in Book IX. Plato does attempt to prove justice agreeably by proving that it makes men happy. He will say that what is agreeable makes men happy. Is the converse true? Isn't Plato merely going back to the programme of showing that justice has good natural consequences which we have seen to be compatible with its being disagreeable? This is true of happiness - to say that a thing makes one happy may to be say that it has agreeable consequences, while being itself disagreeable - as surgery is. But (and here is the fault in the objection) It may also be to say, directly, that the things is itself agreeable. One of the functions of the sentence, this makes me happy, is just to make the claim that the thing is agreeable. Thus, if praising a thing of its consequences is, as Kirwan argues, different from showing it to be agreeable, praising a thing for making one happy is not necessarily a case of praising it for its consequences - and the fact that Socrates is asked and agrees to show that justice makes men happy does not prove that he is asked to praise it for its consequences, as opposed to showing it to be agreeable.
- Without doubt Socrates does undertake to show that justice makes men happy in this formal cause seen, and does profess to show it by the arguments of Book IX. By contrast, had he been asked to show that justice makes men healthy, that would necessarily have been different from the task of showing it to be agreeable, and so could not have been admitted as a proof that justice belonged to Glaucon's second class. 'Justice makes men healthy' could not reasonably be taken to mean 'justice is agreeable'; but 'justice makes men happy' can, and does. CONCLUSION Kirwan considers two interpretations of the challenge made to Socrates in the second book of Republic.
- Some, including Foster, have taken it to go like this : It is agreed that justice is good for its artificial consequences, i.e. that it earns its owner a good reputations, and the reputation earns rewards, or at least immunity from punishment - but that recommendation is not good enough, because it invites the counterfeiting of justice which will secure the same advantages; Socrates is therefore to show that justice has good natural consequences.
- The chief objection to this interpretation is that it conflicts with the programme proposed by Glaucon at the beginning of the book, which implied that justice is to be shown not only to have good natural consequences
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